"She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.'" // Genesis 16:13
Have you ever felt the sting of deep heartache inflicted upon you by someone else? Did that sorrowful instance leave you feeling alone and broken? Did you feel unseen? I too have felt the sting of a broken heart, and because of my personality and natural tendencies, I wanted to bottle it up, shelf it, brush it under the rug, and move on. As a result of keeping it to myself, I felt alone in my suffering and sorrow. I almost felt like no one saw me or even cared about my feelings.
On an even broader scale, I think Hagar in Genesis 16 felt even more so alone, unseen, and broken. Sarai could not bear any children for Abram, so Sarai had the idea to give her Egyptian slave, Hagar to sleep with her husband so that Hagar could bear a child for them.
Genesis 16:4-6 says, "When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.” “Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her."
I can imagine that Hagar felt she was used, mistreated, and tossed aside. I am sure that she believed that no one cared for her, but only for her unborn child. I naturally would have run too.
"The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered. Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.” Genesis 16:7-10
God commanded her in 16:9 to change her attitude about her master, to return home to her, and He encouraged her by promising that her descendants would be numerous. What Hagar did not understand was that El Roi, the God who sees, knew and recognized exactly what she was walking through. From scripture, we know that God is omnipresent, meaning He sees all and is everywhere at once, all at the same time.
Aside from being everywhere all at once, God had also allowed Hagar's suffering to occur, and the same goes for us. He has gone before us in our pain, He is with us in the midst of our heartache, and our struggle is not in vain, in fact, it is for His glory. John Piper said, "Not only is all your affliction momentary, not only is all your affliction light in comparison to eternity and the glory there. But all of it is totally meaningful. Every millisecond of your pain, from the fallen nature or fallen man, every millisecond of your misery in the path of obedience is producing a peculiar glory you will get because of that."
Genesis 16:11 continues, "The angel of the Lord also said to her: “You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard of your misery..." He calls her to name her son Ishmael which signifies, "God hears." He truly saw her in her suffering; a youthful, pregnant, Egyptian slave, frantically fleeing from her feelings, and He cared for her. Let that unbelievable truth just saturate your soul for a second as you read further to Genesis 16:13, "She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.'"
The God of all creation sees us where we are. He knows our deepest troubles, toughest afflictions, and most bitter miseries. Isn't that incredible? How completely humbling and overwhelming is that? We are never alone in our suffering and heartache. Let us rejoice and be glad that we never have to flee like Hagar in the sight of heartache, for we too have seen the One who sees us. Our protector is ever present and attentive to our needs wherever we go. He is El Roi, The God who sees.